Yorktown, VA

Battle of Yorktown American Civil War

[Rebels from Yorktown Sunday morning by Alfred R. Waud - Courtesy of Wikipedia]

Date(s): April 5-May 4, 1862

Campaign(s): Peninsula Campaign [March-September 1862]

Battles in Campaign:



  • Union: Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan

  • Confederate: Maj. Gen. John B. Magruder and Gen. Joseph E. Johnston

Principal Forces: Armies

  • Union:

  • Confederate:


  • Marching from Fort Monroe, Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan’s army encountered Maj. Gen. John B. Magruder’s small Confederate army at Yorktown behind the Warwick River. 

  • Magruder’s theatrics convinced the Federals that his works were strongly held. McClellan suspended the march up the Peninsula toward Richmond, ordered the construction of siege fortifications, and brought his heavy siege guns to the front.

  • In the meantime, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston brought reinforcements for Magruder.

  • On 16 April, Union forces probed a weakness in the Confederate line at Lee’s Mill or Dam No. 1, resulting in about 309 casualties. 

  • Failure to exploit the initial success of this attack, however, held up McClellan for two additional weeks, while he tried to convince his navy to maneuver the Confederates’ big guns at Yorktown and Gloucester Point and ascend the York River to West Point thus outflanking the Warwick Line.

  • McClellan planned for a massive bombardment to begin at dawn on May 4, but the Confederate army slipped away in the night toward Williamsburg.

Photo Gallery:2

Yorktown National Cemetery

Yorktown National Cemetery

Bivouac of the Dead

Moore House

Moore House

Yorktown Waterfront

Yorktown Waterfront

Yorktown Waterfront

Union trenches

Union trenches

Union trenches


Classification3: B

Casualties4: 320

  • Union:

  • Confederate:

Results: Inconclusive

Battlefield Websites:

Lodging and Restaurants: Virginia Tourism

Recommended Resources:

1 National Park Service summary.

2 Please click on the image to enlarge it. You may copy the images if you include the following note and link with each image: "Courtesy of civil-war-journeys.org."

3 Classification:

  • A - having a decisive influence on a campaign and a direct impact on the course of the war

  • B - having a direct and decisive influence on their campaign

  • C - having observable influence on the outcome of a campaign

  • D - having a limited influence on the outcome of their campaign or operation but achieving or affecting important local objectives

4 Casualties are someone killed, injured, wounded, captured or missing.

Revised 02/22/2012